Last Nov. 7, key amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act have been passed which include progressively raising the minimum legal age (MLA) for smoking from 18 to 21 for a period of three years that will begin on Jan. 1, 2019 until Jan. 1, 2021.
The said act also prohibits young people from purchasing, selling, using, and possessing imitation tobacco products such as e-cigars, e-cigarettes, and e-pipes.
Smoking Legal Age in Singapore to be Increased Progressively until 2021
According to Mr. Amrin Amin, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, the progressive increase of the MLA recognizes the incremental journey of smokers towards quitting the habit for good.
He also explained that the adjustment of the MLA is based on two factors: (1) the adolescent brain has a greater chance to develop nicotine addiction, and (2) research-backed data suggest that more efforts have to be done to lower the incidences of smoking among young Singaporeans. Mr. Amrin said that the younger a person starts smoking, the more likely he is to become a chronic smoker. There’s also data that shows smokers who started out earlier find it more difficult to quit later in life.
He added that around 23 per cent of Singaporean men still haven’t quit smoking. Moreover, there are about six smoking-related deaths in Singapore every day.
The MLA adjustment will cause retailers to prohibit selling tobacco products to young people between their 18th and 21st birthdays, thus preventing people in this age group as well as their peers easy access to these products.
Mr. Amrin also took note of other factors such as peer and social pressure which greatly influence the youth to try smoking. The move to raise the MLA is a further step in denormalizing smoking for people ages 21 and below.